In California, a creditor can put a lien on a person’s real estate and vehicle depending on the value. California allows a homeowner to exempt $50,000 of the equity in his primary residence (more if you’re married, over 65, or disabled). This means that if your house is worth $200,000, and you owe $150,000 on your mortgage, then the creditor cannot put a lien on the house and force a sale. If the house were worth $210,000, however, then the creditor could put a lien on the house for the $10,000 that represents the amount over the $50,000 of exempted equity.
Similarly, you can exempt a vehicle that is worth $1900. Beyond that, the creditor can put a lien on it and force a sale.
The creditor probably cannot take any part of your pension (although it depends on what kind it is), and your social security is safe because federal law prohibits any sort of levy or garnishment.
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